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Grace Davis

Fostering the Arts in Red Wing Minnesota: My Summer at the Sheldon Theatre

by Grace Davis Friday, August 2, 2019

What comes to mind when you think of Red Wing, Minnesota?

How about the home of the world’s largest boot!

Yes, Red Wing is home to the #worldslargestboot, but it is also home to the beautiful and historic Sheldon Theatre where I’ve had the pleasure of working under the guidance of Executive Director, Bonnie Shock, for my summer internship.

Prior to my time at the Bolz Center, I worked in television production at a large company with thousands of employees. As I considered which environment would be the most beneficial for my summer internship experience, I knew I wanted to work for a smaller arts organization. As a result, I went from working on a crew of almost 300 people to create 12 episodes of television, to working at a theater comprised of only 4 fulltime staff members who program almost 50 different presented events annually, provide countless education and outreach opportunities, and continue to enrich the greater community in a truly significant way. I knew I wanted to work at an institution where I could learn a lot and hopefully make a difference, and I have certainly found that at the Sheldon.

As Strategic Projects Coordinator, I have had the opportunity to explore so many different aspects of the organization. To list a few, I have written new board policy, conducted a marketing survey campaign through multiple mediums, updated pricing models, assisted with grant applications, connected with community partners, contributed to programming decisions, delved into tricky ticketing software, toured behind the scenes of the gorgeous theater, learned an organ tune, worked with Flyway Film Festival, and cruised down the Mississippi River in a vintage Chris-Craft.

It has been a summer of many firsts, and I am happy to report that I have been able to apply the leadership skills and knowledge I have gained from my MBA education in a very real way. I have learned a great deal about the operational and creative decision-making it truly takes to run a smaller arts organization that does powerful work. It is wonderful to feel that my input is valued, and I hope that I am able to leave the Sheldon with a lasting impact. Time is certainly flying by as I have just wrapped up my 8th week at the theater, but in the time that remains, I look forward to continuing to learn as much as possible.

…and maybe even purchase my very own pair of Red Wing boots.